What It’s Like Being The Friend Who Doesn’t Want Kids
I’m quite content with my fur baby, thank you very much.
Every morning at around 6a.m., I’m rudely awoken by annoying, high-pitched screeching and yelling, because my baby is hungry and wants breakfast, right now.
The incessant noise permeates the silence of the early morning and doesn’t stop until I begrudgingly crawl out of bed and make my way, still half asleep, down the stairs to plate up some breakfast for him. Considering I am the absolute opposite of a morning person, this daily ritual is basically torture for me.
And I can’t even imagine how much I’d hate it if it was an actual baby and not just my fat cat demanding breakfast and my attention all the time.
I’ve never been a maternal person.
I’ve never even liked children, in fact. I’ve always openly bemoaned any and all humans under the age of 16 not directly related to me. While members of my mostly 20-somethings girl gang clutch at their ovaries every time they share photos of their nephews and nieces, or coo over inane videos of babies doing unremarkable things on Facebook (read: blowing spit bubbles and sleeping), I honestly couldn’t care less.
This lack of maternal instinct combined with the fact I don’t and won’t ever want kids of my own has led me to make the choice to live a childfree life. I don’t want to be pregnant, or go through the pains of labor and giving birth, or experience what I’m sure are the many ups and downs of raising a child. No pitter-patter of little feet on the floorboards for me, no first days of school or ‘terrible twos’; no struggling with a moody teenager. I don’t want any of it.
And while I’ve made this decision about my own life, just like I’ve made choices about all kinds of things – my career, where I live, what I do – people are not taking the news of my baby boycott well. It’s as if they don’t respect my decision over my own body and life path enough to mind their own damn business and keep their opinions about what I do (or more pointedly, don’t do) with my womb to themselves.
I’m sure these people mean well when they ask me when I’m going to have children (even though I’m still in my early 20s and happily single). And I’m sure they don’t mean any harm as they assure me that they just know I’ll change my mind when I get older, as if I’ll wake up in March of the year I turn 28 and the urge to pop a child out will suddenly become my primary goal in life.
Here’s the thing, though. If you’re thinking of weighing in, just don’t.
I didn’t ask you, and I don’t want your advice on how I’m going to live my life, or what choices I will and won’t make.
When I told people I wanted to go to university to study journalism, they didn’t say, “Oh, but one day you’ll change your mind and want to study economics,” in a condescending ‘I know because I’m older than you’ sort of way. So why, when a decision involves bringing another human life into the world, something arguably requiring much more meaningful consideration than career choice (which, by the way, it’s never too late to change) do people respond with the same nonchalance as if suggesting I mail back my ill-fitting ASOS dress for a full refund?
I have my reasons for not wanting to be a parent.
Besides the aforementioned reasons, there are already so many kids born into bad homes and situations, I don’t need to bring one into the world myself. I’d hate to be pressured into having a child and then regret that decision later. I want to be able to focus on my career.
And the big one? I just Don’t. Want. Kids.
Apart from it really not being anyone else’s business when and if I (or anyone, for that matter) have kids, I’m mainly just annoyed that people seem to think they know what I want. Telling me I’ll change my mind when I’m older and implying I’m just a silly, selfish, entitled young person who doesn’t know about the realities of life and therefore cannot decide if I want kids yet is incredibly offensive.
Let’s get one thing straight: the only person who knows what I’m thinking, what I want, and what is best for me, is me. The only person who gets to have a say on what I do with my womb and whether or not I grow a child in it, is me. The only person this affects, is me, and the only person who should care at all, is me.
I’m not an idiot. I know there is a chance I’ll change my mind as I get older. A slim chance, because of the whole ‘not a maternal bone in my body’ thing; but stranger things have happened. And guess what? If I do change my mind, then that’s fine, too. I might change my mind young enough to conceive naturally, or I might change my mind later, in which case, adoption, fostering or IVF are all viable options.
But the really beautiful thing about all of this is that right now, I don’t want kids and as of this very moment in time, I can’t see myself ever wanting them. And I’m not actually alone on this. A 2015 study found that one-third of millennial women don’t want to ever become mothers.
As far as my direct group of close girlfriends goes though, I’m the only one who’s mindfully chosen to be childfree. When I say to my friends “I don’t want kids”, they’re not surprised. They know me better than most people, and they know it wouldn’t be the right life path for me, so they accept me as I am, in spite of the fact my choice isn’t aligned with theirs. They don’t try to change me so they can feel more comfortable with their lives.
But even though I don’t necessarily feel pressure from my friends to conform and be part of the baby-doting crowd, I have to admit that being the only person in my friendship group who doesn’t ever want kids is starting to become more of a reality than it was a few years ago.
With them all starting to settle down with their partners, wedding bells a’ringing, and, inevitably, baby showers in the not-too-distant future, I have to start to deal with the fact they’ll have kids soon and our relationship will change. Drastically.
While the girls in my group who all have kids can get together for playdates to debrief on the joys and stresses of motherhood, I’m afraid they’ll start to have less and less to do with me. Not because they don’t love me, but because they’ll think they’re doing me a favor, as I don’t want kids, and don’t possess a desire to be around them.
“Kass hates children,” they’ll say. “We wouldn’t want her to feel annoyed or uncomfortable around our kids, so I’m sure she’d prefer not to come.”
Or, less dramatically, things will change in that they won’t have as much time for me, or for anyone outside of their family, which is totally understandable. I’m sure this is old news to the older generations who have seen how friendships change post-motherhood, but it’s really starting to scare me. My choice of not having kids is going to set me apart from my friends, in some way. That’s undeniable. And it’s sad and terrifying.
All I can do is hope they don’t stop inviting me places for fear I’ll despise being around their children, because choosing to be childfree doesn’t automatically make someone a heartless monster who can’t share in their friends’ joy of achieving what is – for them at least – an important life milestone. It just makes me someone who doesn’t want to have my own children.
Well, at least not unless they’re covered in fur.
Images via tumblr.com and instagram.com.
Comment: How has motherhood affected your friendships?